Part Four – Exercise 4.4: Giotto

Say to what extent Giotto’s painting can serve to illustrate the quote by Deleuze. (200 words)


Giotto di Bondone (1266 – 1337):

Giotto (1304 - 06) Scenes from the Life of Christ: La Cattura di Cristo (bacio di Giuda), [Fresco]

Fig. 1: Giotto – La Cattura di Cristo (bacio di Giuda, The Judas Kiss)

“No plastic form will be found in my works, I mean any form perceived objectively, for itself, according to the laws of light and shadow, through the conventional means of relief … All my art is confined solely to the resources of chiaroscuro, and also owes much to the effects of the abstract line, that agent from a profound source, acting directly on the spirit.” – Odilon Redon[1]

Deleuze separates illusionistic artworks that are subordinated to hierarchical structure of the Albertian one-point perspective from multiple viewpoints embracing the surface as done by Renaissance artists e.g. Giotto’s Judas Kiss.

Deleuze points to an asymmetrical distribution of the picture ‘in which the distinguished opposes something which cannot distinguish itself from it’[2]. On an indifferent ground of ‘black nothingness’, e.g. the sky, the group of followers and enemies of Christ, ground becomes differentiated by establishing shapes and different viewpoints of the depicted figures. The beholder is not absorbed by one-view point only, but by multiple ones.

The eye is not staying on a static structured picture but wanders across the surface, from figure to figure, across the ground of other figures. All various views are equally relevant[3]. The picture is not any longer subordinated to the external representational norm of perspective but opens up new visual information with an impact ‘directly upon the soul’.

When Deleuze speaks about the raising ground and the dissolution of forms, he contrasts the indifferent ground with the intensity and spiritual expressions of the depicted figures. The difference is not between the pictorial planes and the hierarchical structure but between the ground and the singular expressions.

(word count: 200)


[1] (Deleuze, 2017, p. 87)

[2] Ibid., p.37

[3] This wandering across the surface is expressed by Deleuze as the nomadic nomos, as the decentralized multiplicity of viewpoints, an ungrounded ‘chaos’ in the sense that there is not any longer one dictating representational framework against that forms are grounded.





  • Deleuze, G. (2017) Difference and Repetition,Bloomsbury Revelations, reprinted ed. Translated by Patton, P. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, An imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

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